Posts Tagged ‘Krautrock’

White Manna – “Mythic Salon”

Long running California psych band White Manna returns with a split release for Centripetal Force and Cardinal Fuzz August 28th. While the blast-force riffs still abound on the album, on “Mythic Salon” there’s a drive towards rhythmic oblivion. Hewing closer to the German Progressive blueprint rather than the amplifier exhaust that they were known for early on, the track wraps elusive vocals around a percolating beat that’s haunted by horns over the distant hills. The song slots in nicely on ARC, as the LP shifts endlessly between growl and grind and the further reaches of space, noise, kosmiche, and Krautrock. It solidifies what the band were beginning to mold on Ape On Sunday, tightening their hold on cosmic psych and letting the spaces between the storm speak.





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Jeffrey Silverstein

Played a bit of this on the last RSTB radio show, but as the excellent mass of great albums this year has outweighed my free time, I’m just now getting this one up on the site. Silverstein has created a meditative oasis of gently loping guitars and cool waters of pedal-steel. Inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, long distance running, and the sunbaked brevity of lost icon Ted Lucas, the record has an innate laid-back quality to it that tends to pass by with a touch of highway hypnosis. Among the marbled greenery of Silverstein’s playing the listener is invited to look inward. Time passes inside tis bubble while the rest of the world slinks by in time-lapse. I’m not going to use the reviled term of 2020 here, this isn’t a balm of sorts, but instead a reset, a meshing with the earth and sky to achieve balance.

There’s a feeling of photosynthesis to the album, as if the vibrations between the light refracted off of You Become The Mountain can energize the listener. The slow pacing never lags, but lingers in just the right manner. Silverstein, along with Barry Walker Jr. (Mouth Painter, Roselit Bone) and Alex Chapman (Parson Redheads, Evan Thomas Way) help to slow down the frantic pace of the year, an asset to an album if there ever was one. While moored in folk, the record takes many of its cues from the amniotic float of Kosmiche while keeping a bit of Neu in the rearview. The latter crops up in the subliminal click of programmed drums that are ever obscured by the heat lines rolling off of the pavement. The elements come together nicely to form an album that suffused with the natural world – the fresh green smell of cut plants, the warmth of wooden surfaces in the sun, the gentle sound of cotton curtains in the breeze. While it seems simple, Silverstein makes the ordinary feel essential for just a few moments.



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Tengger – “Eurasia”

While pan-Asian duo Tengger often lounge in the tranquil waters of ambient float, content to soundtrack the mists that encircle lost peaks along the road to Nirvana, “Eurasia” slots the band into a slightly more propulsive mold. The track is the midpoint of their upcoming album Nomad and its as much a turning point as any. The track reasserts an aptitude for blending atmospheres with beats that push ever forward with an insistence that’s never needling. However, their pull is felt. The band envisions the track as the pace of the Nomad mentioned in the title — a measured gate that gives into the unseen forces around him. To, “accept and flow with life, wherever we are,” the band puts forth as a mindset. With the DNA of Neu and Klaus Schulze in their veins, the band push the motorik impulses into a new generation, eschewing the modern tendency to mash these influences into a fine paste. They embrace the dichotomy of ambience and propulsion with a clear vision that ripples nicely in all directions off of “Eurasia.” The album is out June 12th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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Peel Dream Magazine

The narcotic pulse of Peel Dream Magazine envelops all on their second album for indie pop powerhouse Slumberland. The album drips further into the shoegaze showcase than most of the label’s fare but the band lets its roots creep out much further than the overarching banner of the genre might otherwise imply. With a heavy dose of Stereolab, Spectrum, and Seefeel built into their DNA, the group mixes propulsion with haze for a sound that’s beset with vertigo, but pulled from the whirlpool with a knotted rope of rhythm. Songs lock into circular structures that become dizzying as they unfurl, but ultimately delightful in their barrage of muted colors and dancing lights. Like carnival rides narcotized beyond recognition, the band’s sound is permanently protracted through a fisheye lens of ‘90s nostalgia. Its draped in oversaturated tones and the faint smell of dry ice creeping in from the corners of the mind, but all of the pieces lock together with a satisfyingly soft snap.

They took the rhythmic rites from Krautrock, as passed down through generations of bands bleaching out the original brittleness. They pad the sound further with pillowy, woolen riffs that run the guitars and organ through a dozen mazes of wires before they blanket the listener like a weighted quilt that eases the tension of daily — a pair of arms always ready to receive woes, qualms, and tears alike. The album is comfort food for a certain strain of listener that’s been traversing the haze their whole lives in search of permanent limbo — locking away pain, anxiety, and creeping dread in a womb of rippling mauve haze. The band’s debut had a lot of the same pieces working for it, but it left me wanting more. They’ve found the missing pieces on this one, though and its clear that from here on out they’re looking to steady the balance of comfortable cool and memorable hooks.




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Modern Nature – “Flourish”

The current climate has produced a hundred heartbreaks, several of which include shuttered tours in the upcoming months. Modern Nature’s recent leg was included in the cull — bad news indeed. However some silver lining solace lays in the news that Jack Cooper’s (Mazes, Ultimate Painting) most recent resting place has a new EP on the way from Bella Union in the summer. The band releases the slinking, skulking cut “Flourish” this week and it’s an organic extension of what was built up on the recent How To Live. With a crouched countenance and a smoke-stained simmer, the song introduces the upcoming Annual as an inseparable companion piece to their most recent release. The sax of Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias provides a supple connective tissue to the song, with Cooper’s woolen delivery pushing away from the Krautrock cadence of the album and preceding LP a bit. The EP lands on June 5th. Keep an eye out.



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Steve Palmer

Sunrise Ocean Bender doesn’t push product with the veracity that some labels seem to adopt these days, rolling out a few choice cuts over the last couple of years – Prana Crafter’s, Enter The Stream and Tengger’s Segye among them – but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. The label’s back into the fray this year with the sophomore release from Minneapolis’ Steve Palmer. As with labelmate Will Sol’s Prana Crafter works, Palmer seems adept at mixing the spirit of spare folk with elements of Kosmiche and psychedelia, creating a record that’s densely layered, but also built on a tenderness of touch. I’ve expressed admiration for starting a record off with a crusher in the past (see Axis: Sova) and Palmer does just that, thundering into the album with the cosmic crush of “Statesboro Day.”

As Useful Histories peers out of the clearing smoke from the opener, Palmer blends the barren landscapes of Steven R. Smith and Evan Caminiti with a crumbling sense of American Primitive. Palmer’s version isn’t built on the pristine waters of the plains, but on the ash and ache of our current political climate. There’s less hope to his songs, but it’s there between the cosmic aspirations of “Statesboro” and the ambient numbness of “I Am John Titor.” Palmer has a clear vision that spreads over the disparate, but complimentary impulses on this album and it crafts Useful Histories into a record that is patient and propulsive in equal measures. This record feels like the beginning of a conversation about Palmer that will last well into the coming decade.



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OCH – “NU:64”

Out of the ashes of Flowers Must Die springs OCH. Some (though not confirmed who or how many) members of the band have sprung forth under the new moniker and are working through the detritus of the German Progressive collapse. Locked to a groove that’s as insistent as a heartbeat, the band washes the rinds of their sound in synth tones that hearken to Harald Grosskopf playing homage to Cluster and Popul Vuh. While there’s a Kosmiche nature to “NU:64” its just smoke above the propulsive motor. The band’s album is hard to parse into pieces – winding up more of a soundbath that’s best experienced in the whole, but this nugget is a damn good entry point. Check out the video by Fredric Ilmarson above and begin to sink into the band’s primal ooze. The record lands 2/28 on Rocket Recordings.



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Modern Nature

Following up the eponymous 12” that established Jack Cooper’s new band earlier this year, Modern Nature cements their status with their debut LP, How To Live. The record’s been touted as a cross-section of where the country meets the city – folk forms grafted to a skeleton of motorik pulses and ripples of jazz skronk. There’s also a heavy permeation of cosmic waves that find their way into Modern Nature’s DNA. The band, and Cooper, are careful not to pack to much into one particular song, though. This is a progression, a journey from chaos to meditative ease (relatively speaking). The fluctuations happen organically, in waves and cycles throughout the album. Opening with the organic mew of cello strings, the album massages the darkness that UK-centric folk groups like Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and Incredible String Band carried with them into the crevices of propulsive pop.

Cooper paired up with Will Young (BEAK>, Moon Gangs) for this album and he’s given the songs the wash of rhythm that sneaks in through the fog of folk. Young adds rusted tin atmospheres, the rumble of rails, and the bustle of cityscapes to each song. When the urban life decays and fades, Young helps harness the brokenness and isolation of life change. The band’s namesake song might be their most pop performance, a bubbly and bittersweet hook to hang the album on, but it surrounded by more scarred samples. The haunted “Oracle” is gaunt and unsure. “Nightmares” is, in contrast to its title, surprisingly serene and reassuring, a break through the dark into dawn, but it also shies away from the light.

Its easy to trace back pieces of Modern Nature to previous Cooper-led bands. The pulses found their way into Mazes’ “Skulking” and “Salford” rise up here, and the melancholy and hope that drove Ultimate Painting holds strong as a centerpiece of the new group. Modern Nature finds its brilliance in balance. The essence of the album hangs over crowds like collective breath in cold air – one with the ether while the city moves below. The album has the kind of feeling of a passenger locked into thoughts so deep they forget to disembark the train until it hits the last destination and as we and they stumble out into the cold sun of spring there lies the the ocean, lappping listlessly, but still sparkling with the cold light of morning. This is an album about forgotten firmaments, and changing centers. Its an album ever in transition and we’re all just trying to hold on, or let go, whichever seems most appropriate.



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Lumerians – “Yellowcake” b/w “C-Rock”

Following up their full length for Fuzz Club last year, Oakland’s Lumerians return with a taut, gnarled single for the label. “Yellowcake” sees the band in full motorik mode, letting the rhythm take over on both sides of this short-form cooker. The a-side is hazy, with vocals buried in a storm of smoke and shadow. More compact and less flammable than most of the band’s catalog, the single seethes with an innate tension that’s only compounded by the b-side, “C-rock.” The songs perfectly seque into one another, barely taking a breath between them, but the pace picks up as we’re launched into the controlled chaos of the flip side. While there’s a film of bile that can’t be denied on the A-side, I’ve been gravitating towards this Krautrock cannonball on the back. Its good to see the band so propulsive and tightly coiled. The 7” precedes the band’s run at a string of EU dates and will be available on the tour.



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Föllakzoid

Seemingly going backwards, sideways, or completely untethering from this reality, Chile’s Föllakzoid follow up their 2015 album III with I. I suppose the reset makes sense, though. This is not Föllakzoid as it operated in the past. There’s still a kosmiche touch and a sense of reverberating dread that devours wonder on their latest, but rather than constructing these in the linear sense, the band shifted strategies. Recorded in bits, the band left the assemblage of the album to Uwe Schmidt, more commonly known as the producer Atom™. The band recorded the album as 60 separate stems and Schmidt organized them into four coherent movements. The tracks push the clock, even for Föllakzoid’s typically lengthy impulses, but where they were once creating nebulous galaxies, now they’re creating dense black holes of sound that seek to absorb the listener and disorient the journey.

The Atom™ stamp seems to push their sound further towards the trance end of the spectrum. There’s no more rhythm than the band usually employs, but the rhythms he’s arranged are less likely to scrape through German progressions left from the ‘70s than they are to riffle the Raster Norton and Editions Mego fallout bins. While this is likely the furthest from Terra Nova that the band has traveled, I have to admit I was a fan of their particular niche of Krautrock. This still scratches the same itch in a way, but the darkness has devoured the gauze and I miss it. Still, if you’re looking to lose yourself in the veil of rhythm, this is your best bet.



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